Terrorist, The : Interview With Ayesha Dharker

What was your experience of this film?

Quite intense. Not something you can drift into. She's not like a person you meet every day. She's the product of such unusual people. She's been with them since she was very, very young. She has been moulded to be this way. It was also intense because of the way we shot it. I think that's good because it packs in the experience. You can't do that for an extended period of time. Intense also because I broke my leg doing stunts.

Her commitment is real but is relatively shallow. It’s not a commitment to a political programme but to revenge, blood

These people are not that interested in the larger political reverberations of what they are doing. In fact, they don't even know what the impact of their actions is. I think if you are moulded by that sort of society, martyrs become the patron saints of your organization. You're constantly fed, sort of brainwashed by leaders. I found a photo of five girls, 18/19 years old, and lethal, they kill without any compunction at all. It's a job and that's what they're good at. I had the impression that each of them wanted to be noticed, to be recognised for something. I think that's a very human quality. It's a peculiar mixture of selfishness because that desire is strong, and selflessness because you're giving yourself up for something you'll never see.

I think you’re not human unless your choices are you own and her choices are not her own. Her choice is for life and not to destroy herself and whatever little humanity she has managed to muster or recover. There is hope in that.

Girls like her are actually sent by their families into organisations like this. They can’t afford to marry them or educate them so they send them into this kind of thing, and if they die, the family gets compensation of a certain amount of money. So it’s almost like they’re doing it for their families as well.

What is the state of the Indian film industry from your point of view?

I think the Indian film industry is very interesting at the moment. It is still commercially very, very strong. That is the backbone of the industry. But at the same time, in the last five years especially, a lot of Indian filmmakers are starting to make films of this kind, no songs, strong subjects, and more like films as we know them. With less commercial responsibility so that they can just make the kind of films they want to make. As an actor, I think that this is a good time to be around. I try to stay away from the commercial films because all the roles that have been offered to me…the only information you can get about a character is that she is a 'bubbly, young girl' who runs around trees, and has to decide how much to pad her bra. But in these films there isn't much work to do. There isn't anything to think about so when a film like this comes along, as an actor, it's exciting as well. And more and more films are being made of this kind.

Author : David Walsh